Eighteen year-old Shelby Ratliff of Lake Kiowa, Texas just started showing her new mount, XLNT Edge (Sledge), in March. Ratliff, who was the 2008 AQHYA World Champion in Hunter Under Saddle, is currently leasing the talented gelding from amateur exhibitor, Debbie Hodde. GoHorseShow wanted to find out more about this new team, so we sat down with Shelby who is in her last year of youth to find out more about her background, what it was like to win a World Championship at such a young age, and future goals.
Q: Hi Shelby! Thanks for talking to us! So tell us more about your new horse? A: Sledge is a very calm horse that always tries his best. He has a very funny personality. He has been turned out in a pasture for the past three years and especially likes to eat and sleep. Sledge has multiple hunter under saddle superiors and hasn't shown for three years, and I am showing him in the youth hunter under saddle.
Q: Who are your trainers and what do you enjoy about working with them? A: I train with Beth Case, Charlie Cole and Jason Martin of Highpoint Performance Horses. I have been showing with them since I was nine years old. I like how they always push you to do your best. They're also such a fun group of people that it's always fun to go practice. They make it fun to show and they are always so helpful.
Q:How did you get involved showing horses? A: I got involved when I was nine when my dad took my sister and me to some small shows. Then we started to show palominos then moved to quarter. I knew I was hooked when I won my first buckle. I thought getting the ribbons was cool, especially the pink ones until I won my first buckle.
Q: What do you enjoy about showing horses? A: I love the fact that showing horses has allowed me to meet people from all over the country. I've met some of my best friends through the horse industry and have made so many friendships that I know would not have been possible if I did not show horses. Not only has the industry allowed me to connect with others who have the same passion that I do but also has taught me to work hard, to always display good sportsmanship towards my fellow exhibitors and to never give up on my dreams and ambitions.
Q: What is your favorite equine accomplishment? A: My favorite accomplishment would be winning the 2008 Youth World in Hunter Under Saddle with my horse, A Big Secret.
Q: When you think back to winning a World Championship in 2008, what do you remember about your ride and how you felt after it was over? A: (Laughing) The only part I can remember was that I was so hot I felt like I
was going to pass out. Secret was such a great horse and he did his
best. I remember being in the line up and it came down to Sam (Chiodo) and me and
when I won I was in shock!
Q: At 14 years old, you were pretty young when you won in 2008. Looking back now, do you think you were able to fully appreciate how difficult it is to win a World Championship title? A: I was very appreciative
because I worked so hard and my horse was so good for me. There were so
many good horses in there that day that I felt so grateful to win especially
since I was so young.
Q: Tell me about Secret? Is he retired? What are your plans with him? A: Secret was, and still is, my dream horse. I accomplished so much with him. I went undefeated on him for a while. I won the Reichert, NSBA World, Congress and Youth World on him. Unfortunately, he became injured so now he is living the retired life and is enjoying it very much.
Q: What made you decide to find another horse to show and why Sledge? A: I wanted to be able to show my last year in youth, so my trainers found Sledge for me from Debbie Hodde and made it possible for me to show.
Q: What is it you enjoy about the hunter under saddle? A: I love the way the horses move in that class. It's a faster pace than the pleasure and that's what I enjoy.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge showing horses? A: The biggest challenge that I have faced due to showing horses is school. Finding the perfect balance between school and showing is extremely difficult, especially when both expect so much.
Q: What advice would you give to newcomers to the industry?
A: I would tell up-and-commers to try not to get frustrated if something goes wrong. Just keep trying and never give up.
Q: What are your future goals? A: I just graduated high school, and I will be going to Abilene Christian University (ACU) in the fall. I am currently an undecided major, but have interests in business and marketing. As for the show arena, I would like to start showing other events like the hunter hack and western riding. I plan on continuing to show through college and hopefully have a successful amateur career.
Click here to view Shelby's ad in the June issue of GoMag and watch for her new ad in the July issue as well!